The nonconference schedule hasn’t been pleasant to the Havre High football teamthis season.
But things turned around on Friday when the Central A Blue Ponies were in Libby where they took on the Loggers. The Ponies were just 1-3 in non conference play this season, but earned the 26-14 win on Friday night.
And while the Ponies did find a way to grab the win on the road, it wasn’t a pretty one. HHS got off to a very slow start, scoring zero points in the first quarter and just six in the first half. The Ponies struggled to find the end zone on a sloppy field, but more so with several costly penalties. The Ponies even had a touchdown called back on a penalty in the first half.
“Penalties are a part of the game,” Havre High head coach Jason Christenson said. “But what I didn’t like was the personal fouls we were getting. It is always at the discretion of the referee, but I thought on a couple of them, the kids were just trying to get blocks and it was unfortunate we had to get called on that because we teach our kids to hustle and play to the whistle. I don’t think it was a quite as bad as it may have sounded on the radio, but the kids were frustrated with some of the things that were going on on the field and got a little too chippy. So we weren’t happy with those ones.
But even with the slow start, the Ponies went to Libby and did what they wanted to do. They earned the win, completely changed the Logger's game plan with their defense, and had a record setting evening on the offensive side of the ball.
The Ponies trailed 7-6 at the half, but turned in a good third quarter to help put the game away. Ryan Brandt, who has really come on for the Ponies as of late scored twice in the third frame to put HHS up 20-7. Brandt scored on a 27-yard run and on a 17-yard run.
Thurman Holdsclaw added another score in the fourth quarter on a three-yard run. It was Holdsclaw’s second score of the game, as he also scored the Ponies' first TD in the second quarter, reeling in a 36-yard pass from Justin Jensen.
The Ponies made the necessary adjustments at intermission, and it paid off, as they not only outscored the Loggers, but also set a new Havre High record with 708 total yards of offense. The Ponies rushed for 414 yards and passed for a total of 292. Passing, Jensen was 11-of-26 with the one TD, while Holdsclaw grabbed five passes for 153 yards and Brandt grabbed three passes for 51 yards. Brayden Grimson also caught two passes for 35 yards, while Casey Schaub caught two passes for 55-yards.
And on the ground, Brandt rushed 19 times for 236 yards. Schaub also rushed 20 times for 133 yards, while Holdsclaw rushed once for three yards and Jensen rushed nine times for 42 yards.
“We settled the kids down at half and told them they can’t let their emotions get the best of them,” Christenson said. “They needed to just calm down and play football and the rest would take care of itself. The points don’t show how well we performed on offense, but we racked up a lot of yards, and unfortunately some of those penalties hurt us. But we were actually pretty good offensively, even though the score didn’t show it.”
The defense was just as big of part in the win for the Ponies.
The Loggers run game is their bread and butter. But just as the Ponies did to Lewistown last week, they stopped the running game completely and made the Loggers go to the air instead. But that was no match for the Ponies’ defense either, as they held the Loggers to just 138 yards in the air. The Loggers rushed for negative eight yards.
“The kids played well. Libby was without their starting fullback, but I don’t know if he would have been much of a factor. Our kids were just flying around and our linebackers were filling hard and fast. Donny Lohman and the guys up front did a real nice job disrupting their running backs and slowing them up, and we did a nice job of gang tackling. When we have efforts like that from our front seven, it’s going to be good for us.”
Linebackers Eli Hinebauch, Schaub and Kameron Pribyl all had nice games. Hinebauch had one sack and one pass breakup, while Pribyl had eight tackles as well as a sack. Schaub stepped up and had eight tackles as well.
On the line, Lohman had eight tackles, including five for a loss and one sack to lead the defense. And Holdsclaw had five tackles and two sacks, while Evan Flathers had 10 tackles and four sacks in yet another solid performance. Joey Devries also had a fumble recovery for the Ponies.
The defensive backs also stepped up. Grimson had five tackles, one fumble recovery, one interception, caused a fumble and broke up two passes. Mark Vukasin had an interception as well as on pass breakup, and Zach Plum had one pass breakup as well.
Overall it was another solid outing for the Ponies. They overcame a slow start on the road and dominated on offense and defense. They are accustomed to putting up well over 26 points in a win this season, but they will take the win no matter the score.
Now the Ponies (4-3, 2-0) will prepare to face the conference rival Browning Indians in Browning on Friday.
Havre 26, Libby 14
Libby 0 7 7 0 — 14
Havre 0 6 14 6 — 26
HAV — Thurmen Holdsclaw 36 pass from Justin Jensen (PAT failed)
LIB— Chase Hoyer 12 pass from Jared Winslow (kick Patrick Valentine)
HAV — Ryan Brandt 27 run (run failed)
HAV — Ryan Brandt 17 run (RyanBrandt pass from Jensen)
LIB — Nolan Broden 70 pass from Winslow (kick Valentine)
HAV — Thurmen Holdsclaw 3 run (pass failed)
Havre Individual Statistics
Rushing – Ryan Brandt 19-236, Casey Schaub 20-133, Justin Jensen 9-42, Thurman Holdsclaw 1-3
Passing – Justin Jensen 11-26-292
Receiving – Thurman Holdsclaw 5-153, Ryan Brandt 3-51, Brayden Grimson 2-35, Casey Schaub 2-55.